H.R. 4720 (106th): Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2000

106th Congress, 1999–2000. Text as of Jun 22, 2000 (Introduced).

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HR 4720 IH

106th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4720

To provide veterans benefits to individuals who serve in the United States merchant marine during a period of war.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 22, 2000

Mr. FORBES introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


A BILL

To provide veterans benefits to individuals who serve in the United States merchant marine during a period of war.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2000’.

SEC. 2. ELIGIBILITY FOR VETERANS BENEFITS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Subject to subsection (b), the service of an individual in the United States merchant marine during a period of war for a total period equal to at least 12 months shall be considered to be active duty in determining the individual’s eligibility for veterans benefits under all laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

    (b) QUALIFIED SERVICE- The service referred to in subsection (a) shall be limited to the following:

      (1) OCEAN, COASTAL, OR INTERCOASTAL VOYAGES- Service on a vessel of the United States on ocean, coastwise, or intercoastal voyages, during a period of war in a combat zone of such war. The service shall be rendered to the Armed Forces in a capacity considered civilian employment or contractual service at the time the service was rendered.

      (2) FORCIBLE DETENTION OR INTERNMENT- Any period of forcible detention or internment by an enemy government or hostile force as a result of hostile action against a vessel of the United States while the individual was performing the service referred to in paragraph (1) on the vessel.

      (3) OTHER SERVICE- Any period of service in the War Shipping Administration, the United States Maritime Service, or a maritime training program conducted or recognized by the Armed Forces, except that not more than 6 months of such service may be included in calculating the period of service referred to in subsection (a).

    (c) APPLICABILITY OF MINIMUM ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE REQUIREMENTS- The minimum active-duty service requirement of any law administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall apply in determining an individual’s eligibility for veterans benefits under this Act.

SEC. 3. WAIVER OF PERIOD OF SERVICE.

    The requirement of section 2(a) that the period of service referred to in that section be equal to at least 12 months shall not apply to an individual who is permanently disabled in the performance of the service referred to in such section while the vessel of the United States on which the individual is performing the service is subjected to hostile action.

SEC. 4. VERIFICATION OF SERVICE.

    The service referred to in section 2(a) may be verified by entries in a continuous discharge book, a certificate of discharge to merchant seamen, a certificate of substantially continuous service, or other documentation available from the Secretary of Transportation or the head of any other Federal agency.

SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act:

      (1) The term ‘Armed Forces’ has the meaning given such term in section 101(10) of title 38, United States Code.

      (2) The term ‘combat zone’ means an area in which the Armed Forces are engaged in combat, as determined by the Secretary of Defense.

      (3) The term ‘individual in the United States merchant marine’ means any citizen or resident alien of the United States serving as a civilian or civil service member of the United States merchant marine.

      (4) The term ‘period of war’ has the meaning given such term in section 101(11) of title 38, United States Code.

      (5) The term ‘vessel of the United States’ has the meaning given such term in section 2101(46) of title 46, United States Code.

SEC. 6. APPLICABILITY AND PROHIBITION OF RETROACTIVE BENEFITS.

    The service referred to in section 2(a) may be rendered before the date of the enactment of this Act. An individual who performs such service before the date of the enactment of this Act may not be provided veterans benefits that accrue as a result of the enactment of this Act for any period of accrual before the date of the enactment of this Act.